Social Protection, Covid-19, and Building Back Better

Lind, Jeremy; Roelen, Keetie and Sabates-Wheeler, Rachel (2021). Social Protection, Covid-19, and Building Back Better. IDS Bulletin, 52(1) pp. 45–64.



The Covid-19 pandemic has brought sweeping changes for economies and societies, with the most devastating consequences for individuals and groups with pre-existing vulnerabilities. As attention shifts from addressing urgent humanitarian needs to long-term response, it is time to thin about the role of social protection as part of a longer-term solution to living with Covid-19, as well as supporting efforts to build back better. This article considers how social protection can offer support and be supported in short‑, medium-, and long-term responses, under different scenarios for how the pandemic might unfold. Based on a secondary literature review, we argue that planning must anticipate the possibility of an enduring pandemic and that the expansion of social protection should not be limited to a short-term response. Rather, Covid-19 presents a necessity and opportunity to establish firm foundations for more comprehensive social protection systems for years to come, including leveraging greater domestic expenditure and international assistance.

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